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Your News - Spring edition 2017

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INSIDE

DON’T BE A VICTIM OF DOORSTEP CRIME • EMPTY HOMES BROUGHT BACK INTO USE

A MAGAZINE FOR NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL TENANTS

Newsham

MATTERS

YOUR VOTE

- use it or lose it

SPRING 2017


4

DON’T BE A VICTIM

OF DOORSTEP CRIME

FOREWORD

Welcome to the Spring

edition of Your News,

which focuses on

investments made

by the council to help

improve the communities

in which you live.

8

EMPTY HOMES BROUGHT

BACK INTO USE

The word community means a group

of people who live in the same area

and who have a shared interest or a

common goal.

As a council we are committed

to working with our tenants and

partners to create welcoming

communities you can be proud

of and live in.

One of the ways we try to achieve

this ambition is by investing to

improve our estates with

improvement projects, such as

those at The Oval in Newsham.

We couldn’t do this without your

co-operation. Projects like Newsham

Community Matters aim to bring a

community together, to develop a

scheme, which can improve the lives

of everyone in the area. Hopefully,

this pilot will help us to develop our

approach and we may then replicate

this in other areas.

A community is also about taking

care of each other, whether that’s

looking in on an elderly or vulnerable

neighbour, or reporting suspicious

activities in your estate, such as

door-to-door callers or anti-social

behaviour.

We all have a part to play in making

Northumberland a happy place to

live and we welcome your support

and involvement.

Allan Hepple, cabinet member

for housing at the council

14

SOLID FUEL

16

GET YOUR KIDS DAY OFF

TO A HEALTHY START

FRONT COVER IMAGE:

Spring fun at

Whitehouse Farm Centre.

YOUR HOUSING

MANAGEMENT

TEAM IS ON

THE MOVE

The team, currently based at Blyth Civic Centre,

is moving to a new home at Compass House

in the centre of Blyth, following the sale of the

civic centre.

Compass House, as with the Civic

Centre will not be open to the public

but we intend to improve access to

our services by offering meetings by

appointment.

No set date has been agreed for the

move but we anticipate that it will

take place in May.

If you need to access the team

or have a housing management

enquiry, you should continue to

call our Contact Centre on

01670 542424 or call into one

of our Information Centres.


on page 19.

2

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


NEW BUNGALOW

brings back memories for tenant

“The bungalow is

going to make things so

much easier for us, we are

really impressed with it. As

time passes and we get older,

we will now have a house

which will hopefully suit

our needs.”

New tenants have now moved into a

development of bungalows in Blyth.

Rita Railton

And for Rita Railton opening the

doors to her newly built bungalow,

on the site of the former Morpeth

Road school, was like stepping

back in time.

The 70-year-old is a former pupil

of the school and grew up on the

nearby Cowpen Road. The old

school railings now also border

her back garden

She said: “It’s like I’ve come full

circle. The bungalow is going to

make things so much easier for

us, we are really impressed with

it. As time passes and we get older,

we will now have a house which will

hopefully suit our needs.”

The £2.8m development is part of

the council’s Affordable Homes

programme and is made up of

26 two-bedroom bungalows,

two of which have been built to

accommodate wheelchair access.

The bungalows are part of a focus

on affordable housing by the

council, which has seen more than

300 new homes being built across

the county in the last three years.

Northumberland County Councillor

Allan Hepple, cabinet member for

housing said: “The lack of affordable

housing is one of the biggest issues

facing people in Northumberland

and the council has placed a strong

emphasis on building new

affordable homes.

“It’s fantastic to see the tenants

moving into their new homes, which

are helping local people, such as the

Railtons, stay in the communities

they know and love.”

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017

3


SAFER NEIGHBOURHOODS

DON’T BE A VICTIM

OF DOORSTEP CRIME

Northumberland Trading Standards

Service is warning residents to be

aware of bogus door to door callers.

These callers may offer services

such as garden maintenance and

home repairs, or try to sell you

products. Fish sellers are a common

complaint for Trading Standards.

Rogue door to door sellers target

vulnerable or elderly tenants, who

may feel intimidated or pressured

into buying from them or agreeing

to have work carried out in their

home or garden.

They often have a good “story” to tell

and can be very persuasive. Once


to get them to leave. Tenants should

also be aware that in some cases

some people have been subject to

distraction burglary after allowing

these sellers into their home.

Typically the work carried out is of

a low standard, people are charged

an excessive amount for work done

or they fail to complete the work

altogether even when they have

been paid to do it. Complaints about


show you a small amount of quality

product, but leave you with a large

amount of lower quality product,

for which you may be charged a lot

of money.

Remember

if you are unsure

call the Citizens

Advice Consumer

Helpline on

03454 04

05 06

You may also end up on a “suckers

list” where your details could be

passed around to other rogue

traders. As a result you may then

receive an increased number of

calls and visits to your home.

If you

have elderly

neighbours or

relatives be aware

that they may be

vulnerable to rogue

traders so pass on

these tips and

advice.

4

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


SAFER NEIGHBOURHOODS

NORTHUMBERLAND TRADING STANDARDS

SERVICE ARE HERE TO HELP WITH SOME

TIPS AND ADVICE:

If you are unsure about the service being offered, you should always

take the time to think. Ask for a business card and say that you will

contact the trader rather than agreeing to work immediately.

For home maintenance or gardening services it may be better to ask

a friend or neighbour for a recommendation for a tradesperson they

have used.

Look for businesses on the Business Approval Register

www.businessapprovalregister.com. This is a directory of

businesses providing home improvements and professional

services, providing a safer way to choose a tradesperson.




about a door to door caller report it immediately. Contact the police

via the 101 emergency number or call the Citizens Advice

Consumer Helpline on 03454 04 05 06 for further advice.

Avoid allowing someone you do not know into your home and use

a door chain if possible.

Never agree to take someone to your bank to withdraw money to

pay for goods or services.

Staff in most high street banks are now trained to

look out for any suspicious withdrawals

Fish sellers need a licence to sell door to door, so ask for evidence

of this.

Place a no cold callers sign in your window

(please cut out the sign provided)

PHONE AND EMAIL SCAMS

Be wary of letters,phonecalls

or emails asking for personal

information, such as bank

account numbers, login details

or passwords. Sometimes emails

may look convincing but banks

and Government departments

such as HMRC would not ask for

your personal details in this way.

Never respond to letters or

emails asking for you to send

money to an account. Even if an

email is from someone in your

contacts, their account could

have been hacked, so always


Be wary of letters, e-mails or

phonecalls which tell you you

have won a prize, especially if

they are asking you to send

money or call a premium rate

number in order to claim this

prize. Remember if it seems too

good to be true, it probably is.

If you are still unsure call the

Citizens Advice Consumer

Helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

CUT OUT YOUR NO COLD CALLERS SIGN HERE

We DO NOT deal with

COLD CALLERS

PLEASE LEAVE AND DO NOT RETURN

Failure to do so is a criminal offence

The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


ELECTIONS

Local Elections:

‘THEY’RE ON YOUR

DOORSTEP’

Deadline

to register

Thursday

13 April

Elections

take place

Thursday

4 May

Northumberland County Council and local Parish and

Town Council Elections take place on Thursday 4 May.

This is your opportunity to choose who decides, on

your behalf, what happens in your area and for the

people of Northumberland.

To be able to vote, you must be

registered and registering to vote

is easy. You can do it in just a few

minutes at gov.uk/register-to-vote.

You’ll need to provide your National

Insurance number, your date of birth

and your address. Thursday 13 April

is the deadline to register to vote,

so don’t miss out!

If you have moved house or recently

moved into Northumberland, you

may not be on the Electoral Register.

If you are unclear about whether

or not you are on the register call

01670 624811 or email

elections@northumberland.gov.uk

If you can’t vote in person you can

still have your say with a postal vote

or, if this doesn’t suit your needs, a

proxy vote (where a person you trust

votes on your behalf). Go to

yourvotematters.co.uk

Make your vote count in this year’s local Elections.

#OnYourDoorstep

how to apply, or contact Electoral

Services on the details above to

request an application form.

Once you have registered you will

receive a polling card which advises

you that you either have a postal

vote or give the details of the polling

station where you should attend on

the 4 May. If you have chosen to

vote by post, you will receive your

postal vote within the month of April.

6

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


BE PREPARED

for UNIVERSAL

CREDIT

Universal credit, the new

benefit for working age

people, who on are a low

income or out of work, is

being introduced in stages

across the country.


one payment, which will be paid

directly into your bank account.

This means that if you are entitled

to help with your rent, (i.e. you are


money will be included in your

Universal Credit payment and paid

directly to you. Unlike before, you

will be responsible for paying your

rent and making sure you don’t fall

into arrears.

Remember your rent is due weekly


usually pays four weekly in arrears.

This means that once Universal Credit

starts you will be behind on your rent

by four weeks.

It is vital that you pay your rent on

time every week, failure to do so

could lead to legal action being

taken against you.

The easiest way to pay your rent is

via Direct Debit, see details above

on how to set up a direct debit. You

can also pay by Standing Order, contact

our Customer Contact Centre for a

form, by telephone or pay online at

www.northumberland.gov.uk

If you are having issues paying your

rent then please contact us and we

can help to set up a payment plan.

If you receive a letter about your

rent from us, don’t ignore it – the

problem won’t go away. It is always

best to discuss your problems

with us so that we understand the


have a chance to help you.

Housing

Benefit

Incomerelated

Employment

and Support

Allowance

Please

don’t wait for

the changes to

happen. You need

to start getting

prepared

now.

Child

Tax

Credit

Income

Support

MONEY MATTERS

Working

Tax

Credit

The six benefits

Universal credit

will replace

JSA

We are waiting to hear when Universal Credit is to be introduced

more widely in Northumberland. But please don’t wait for the

changes to happen. You need to start getting prepared now.

1 Open a bank account: even if you have a poor credit rating, you can

open a ‘Basic Bank Account’ Go to a local bank and they will help you.



It is very important that you pay your rent and it is paid on time. You do

not want to get into debt. The easiest way to pay your rent is by Direct


www.directdebit.co.uk or speak to your bank.

Alternatively you can open a ‘Jam Jar’ account with a credit union. Jam

Jar accounts work by splitting the money that enters your account into

different ‘jars’. You can have different jars for different expenses. For

example you can have a rent, water, saving or food jar. You can set how

much money you want to go into each jar so that you know you will

have enough money to cover those expenses.

2 Get on the internet: You will have to make your application for


Northumberland where you can use a computer for free, such as your

local job centre and library and learn how to get online. Call us on

0345 600 6400

3 Set up a direct debit to pay your rent: this means you won’t have to

remember to pay your rent on time as it will be taken from your

account automatically. Your bank can help you do this. Once you have

set up your Direct Debit, you can ask us about changing the date you

pay your rent to the day you receive your Universal Credit payment.

This will mean that your rent will come out of your account the same

day you receive your Universal Credit payment.

4 Come and talk to us: If you have any questions or concerns about

Universal Credit one of our friendly advisors can help explain the

process and how it will affect you in the future. Just call in at your

local council customer information centre or ring 01670 542424.

Alternatively your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be able to help.

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017

7


AFFORDABLE HOUSING

EMPTY HOMES

BROUGHT BACK

INTO USE

Empty homes across

Northumberland will

be brought back into

use thanks to a

project being delivered

by the council.

Thirty homes from across the county

will be repaired and released back

onto the rental market, using a

£750,000 grant from the Homes

and Communities Agency’s (HCA)

Affordable Housing programme.

The council is working with owners,

who currently have homes which

have been empty for two years or

more, to identify the homes to be

included in the scheme.

Each home will be assessed in

terms of its viability, such as

cost of repair work, future rental

potential, housing need in the

area and the impact of it remaining

empty on a community.

Using an Empty Dwelling Management

Order (EDMO). The council will take

over the management of up to

25 empty homes. Using the grant

these homes would be returned to a

habitable condition and rented out.

The council will also purchase a


then be refurbished and once rented,

would be managed by Homes for

Northumberland.

It is hoped that repair work to the

homes will be complete next year

with each being available to rent

no later than 2018.

Northumberland County Council’s

business chair, Scott Dickinson, said:

“Empty properties can have a negative

impact on the sustainability of an

area, affecting everything from local

businesses to public services, such

as schools and transport.

“Thanks to this funding from the

HCA, we will now be able to work

with owners to identify properties,

which could be given a new lease

of life and become a much-needed

family home.”

8

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


AFFORDABLE HOUSING

MILLIONS

INVESTED

in Blyth estate

A multi-million pound scheme

to rejuvenate a Blyth estate is

nearing completion.

The work is

expected to be

completed by

the end of

March.

More than 350 homes in The Oval

area of Newsham and New Delaval

have seen their garden walls replaced,


and new streetlights installed.

The properties have also been

re-rendered and new guttering


The council has invested £2.9m

into the scheme of environmental

services.

Roads in the estate will also be

resurfaced and a front canopy

placed on a number of properties.

The majority of the homes in the

estate are managed by Homes for

Northumberland, the council’s

housing management team,

alongside a number of owneroccupiers.

Northumberland County Councillor

and ward member Deidre Campbell

helped to initiate the project.

She said: “It’s fantastic to see the

project almost at completion. The

transformation of the estate is

wonderful, and tenants I have

spoken to are really happy with

the work.

“The estate was looking old and

tired but this work has given it a

new lease of life. If an area looks

good it makes you feel better about

the place.”

Gordon Webb, chair of the council’s

housing working group, added:

“There were

some issues with

anti-social behaviour in this area,

but hopefully the community will

now take more pride in the estate.”

Northumberland County Councillor

Allan Hepple, cabinet member for

housing said: “This major investment

is part of our ongoing commitment

to improving the lives of our tenants.

“We hope that there will be a positive

impact, not only to their community,

but to the area as a whole.

“As a council we ensure that all our

homes meet the Decent Homes

standard. Improving the appearance

of our estates is a natural

progression of this work.”

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017

9


INFORMATION

Working with

LANDLORDS

Did you know that the council is working

with landlords in your area to help to

improve standards across our estates?

Working with private owners is key

to ensuring that all homes in your

community are a decent condition.

We offer a range of support and

services to encourage landlords and

owners to look after their properties

This includes an accreditation scheme

which offers a free tenant check, and

a Rent Deposit Guarantee scheme.

The council is committed to working

with landlords, property owners and

agents to improve standards in

rented housing across the county.

HERE’S HOW WE CAN HELP IN MORE DETAIL:

WHAT’S ON OFFER

The accreditation scheme was introduced to offer responsible

landlords with a free reference checking service for tenants,the

same way we reference check our own tenants, to make tenancies

more sustainable and to minimise the risk of failing tenancies.

WHAT WE NEED

To access the scheme there are a

number of things we require from

landlords including; all the


Electrical and Energy); building

insurance and proof of a buy to let

mortgage.

Once we receive these we will do an

inspection of the property to ensure

there are no health and safety risks.

WHAT A LANDLORD GETS


including arrears checks and

previous landlord reference




your gas, electrical or energy


accredited






promoting your properties as

a responsible landlord

10

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


INFORMATION

RENT DEPOSIT GUARANTEE

SCHEME (RDGS)

Once a property has been assessed

and accepted into the accreditation

scheme, the RDGS is available to

tenants, who are unable to raise the

funds through other means, to help

them secure a property in the

private rented sector.

The bond guarantee can be claimed

upon by landlords at the end of a

tenancy (up to 12 months) if there

has been damage to the property or

rent arrears. Both parties must be in

agreement before a bond guarantee

can be signed.

This scheme allows properties to be

let more quickly. Tenants will

be expected to save up over the

period of the tenancy in order to

repay the council in case of any

claim being made.

TRAINING COURSES

AND LANDLORD FORUMS

Working alongside the National Landlord’s Association, Newcastle City

Council and North Tyneside Council we offer a range of training courses

for landlords throughout the year. These focus on everything from

understanding deposits and disputes to landlords’ safety. The courses are

£85 per delegate.

We also organise an annual county-wide Landlords Forum. This event is a


about what the council can do to help.

There are also Development Forums in South East Northumberland, three

times a year. The forum is a partnership between the council, private

landlords and letting agents working in the private rented sector. It helps

to promote the views of private landlords to contribute to the improvement

of the county’s housing.

For more information on the Property Accreditation Scheme and its

privatesectorhousing@northumberland.gov.uk or

phone 01670 622299. Visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/Housing/

Landlords.aspx#privaterentedsectoraccreditationscheme

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017

11


COMMUNITY LIFE

MAKING

THINGS MATTER

in Newsham

A new community project led by

Northumberland County Council is

striving to improve the lives of people

living in Newsham.

After a series of anti-social behaviour

incidents in the area, the council

carried out a door-to-door survey


main issues were, and what people

wanted to see happen in the

community.

More than 300 households

responded, with many saying they

would like to see a community

project with everyone working

together to bring back some pride

to the area.

From there tenants developed

the Newsham Community Matters

project. With funding from

NE Procurement the scheme aims

to offer tenants and residents

activities and courses to help

improve their lives for the future.

Activities and courses will run in three different venues in Newsham. IT Matters, Church of Yahweh (lead by the


Credit, help with writing CV’s, short courses, and home budgeting). Practical Matters, St Bedes Church Hall


advice) and Family Matters, The Pavilion (activities such as healthy cooking, cooking on a budget, dealing


12

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


COMMUNITY LIFE

With funding from

NE Procurement the

scheme aims to offer

tenants and residents

activities and courses

to help improve their

lives for the future.

The council will be working in

partnership with NE Procurement,

the, Police, Community Voluntary

Action Blyth Valley, Youth Forum,

Northern Learning Trust, the Army,

Northumbria Healthcare, Red Cross,

St Bedes, Church of Yahweh and

volunteers from the community to

deliver courses and activity sessions

starting on Wednesday 22 March.

We are also working with the

Community Voluntary Action Blyth

Valley (CVABV) to establish a

Community Interest Company, made

up of tenants, who can develop and

take the project forward.

Irene Willis, 72, has lived in Newsham for

more than 50 years and is fully supportive

of the project.

“I have seen a lot of changes over

the years, but recently we seem to

have lost that community pride in

the area,” she said.

“This project has so many different

elements to it that I think there is

something for everyone. Working

together, and getting the older

generation to help the younger one,

will hopefully not only improve the

community but also the lives of

people who live here.

“I would encourage everyone to go


what courses and activities could


For more information about the project contact the council’s

Resident Involvement Team on 01670 542424 or the

Newsham Community Project mobile on 075522 60613.

Or go to www.facebook.com/newshamcommunitymatters

Save the date

Come along to a

family fun day to launch

Newsham Community

Matters on March 18th

at The Pavillion from

10am to 2pm

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017

13


HOME ADVICE

Do you have a solid fuel appliance in your

home? Then we have some advice on how

to look after it and what fuel to burn.

There are a number of threats to

your appliance which can not only

cause large repair bills for the

council, but also can pose as a

danger to your home.

Northumberland County Council is

responsible for servicing your appliance

twice a year, this includes sweeping

the chimney and cleaning and

repairing any parts, such as grates


However, we have seen an increase

in repair work as some tenants choose

the wrong type of fuel to burn.

SO HERE ARE SOME DO’S AND DON’TS

DON’T

• Burn “Green wood”.

Wood is wood,

right? Wrong, Your

solid fuel appliance

is only as good

as the fuel you

burn on it.

• This is wood which has not been dried, or seasoned. Unseasoned or

green wood, still has the sap inside. Once the wood starts to burn the

sap evaporates inside the chimney, the smoke cools and the sap turns

into tar. This sticks to inside of the chimney and could result in a



would need to be replaced, costing the council £1,500 each time,

to reline the chimney using a specialist chimney contractor

• Green wood also gives off less heat, so will end up costing you

more as you will need to burn more to keep warm.

DO

• Buy your logs from a responsible supplier.

• These should be logs that are already seasoned and ready to burn.

• Wood should be stored under a cover to protect it from rain, but with


stored for a year and for a hardwood trees, such as oak, up to two years.

• If you are unsure ask the supplier who can advise you on the best type

of wood to burn and how to store it correctly.

For more information call our Repairs and Maintenance team on 01670 542424

14

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


HOME ADVICE

Tenants invited

TO EXHIBITION

DON’T


Otherwise known as

Pet Coke, this cheaper

alternative to coal or

coke, burns uncontrollably

and at an intense heat.

It can burn through your


front of your stove to crack

and crack the chimney.

DO

• Source your coal or coke from

a reputable, registered coal

merchant, who can advise you

on the best fuel to burn.

Tenants were invited to a special

exhibition to showcase the next

phase of the council’s £31million

Capital Works programme.

This programme will include kitchen

and bathroom replacements,

electrical rewires, new heating

systems, replacement roof coverings

and windows and doors.

Tenants whose homes are in line for

improvements this year were invited

to an exhibition at Blyth’s Civic Centre.

They were able to view the choices on

offer to them, ranging from bathroom

suites and tiles to new front doors

and kitchen units.

They were also given an idea of the date

when work will start in their homes.

DID YOU KNOW...

If you need help

moving furniture, or

preparing your house

for work, our housing

Handyman can do this

free of charge. Call

01670 542424

for more details

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017

15


RESIDENTS’ FESTIVAL

NORTHUMBERLAND

Residents’ Festival

OUR PEOPLE, OUR PLACES

Attractions across the

county will be opening

their doors to residents to

encourage you to explore

what’s on your doorstep.

© National Trust


take it along to your chosen attraction, with proof of residence, such as a

driving licence, utility bill or bank statement.


nearest library or information centre or go to www.activenorthumberland.

org.uk/northumberland-festivals-and-events

Here’s some highlights:

Seaton Delaval Hall

2 for 1 admission into

this National Trust

property where you can

explore the drama of

the central hall as well

as the wide open spaces

in the surrounding landscapes,

gardens and woodlands.

2

for 1

admission

Woodhorn Museum

2 for 1 admission

to Brick Dino

exhibition, and

come face-to-face

with dinosaurs

built entirely from

LEGO ® bricks.

2

for 1

admission

Blyth Battery

FREE

entry

Explore this important

WW1 and WW2 defence battery for

free all weekend. The only WW1

battery observation post left in the

world. There will be children’s

activities as well as guided tours.

CUT OUT YOUR VOUCHER HERE

Please be aware that you must bring proof of residence when presenting

this voucher. A driving licence, utility bill or bank statement will all be

accepted. To save time, please complete the voucher before arrival

at the venue.

16

Name:

Address:

Email:

The above information may be used by the attractions for marketing purposes,

should you not wish to be contacted, please tick this box.

YOUR NEWS Winter 2016

Newbiggin

Maritime Centre

50%

50% entry into the

heritage and art

exhibitions at the

centre. There will be a host

of special Residents’ Festival

activities throughout the weekend.

entry


A small bowl of sugary cereal

YOUR HEALTH

Get your kids day yoff

to a healthy start

As the saying ggoes “Breakfast is the

most important meal of the day ” but

did you know that some children are

having twice the daily recommended

amount of sugar before the morning

school bell?

According to research by Public

Health England some children in

England consume more than 11g

of sugar at breakfast time alone,

that’s almost 3 sugar cubes. The

recommended daily maximum is no

more than 5 cubes of sugar for 4 to

6 year olds and no more than 6

cubes for 7 to 10 year olds per day.

By the end of the day children have

consumed more than 3 times these

recommendations.

The research also found that of

those parents of children who were

eating 3 sugar cubes at breakfast,

84% of them considered the

breakfast they were giving their

children as healthy.

Public Health ’ s Top

Breakfast tips are:

Add fruit:



Drink lower-fat milk




Have wholegrain toast




Master porridge oats




Bagels

Swap sugary drinks for alternatives



So here’s some stats

which may surprise you,

along with some tasty

healthy options that

your kids will love in

the morning.

Chocolate spread on toast

A glass of fruit juice


www.nhs.uk/change4life-beta/be-food-smart

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017

17


GET INVOLVED

TENANT FORUM

update

LEASEHOLDERS

Did you

know?

Our tenant forum continues to lead the way

with the development of a bespoke tenant

engagement system called ThinkChange.

To help improve tenant engagement, and receive feedback on what is

important to tenants and residents, the forum is working on an innovative



tenant engagement system in place.

The system would allow tenants to

suggest ideas on how to improve the

housing service they receive as well

as commenting on current initiatives

and projects.

Each tenant would be offered the

opportunity to sign up to the system

and would be given a personal login

which could be accessed from any

computer or mobile device.

Karen Bailey,

chair of the Tenants Forum

“We are always looking at new

ways of communicating with

tenants and gaining their views

on the housing service they receive.


and once again demonstrates

how tenants in this area are

leading the way on engagement

and involvement.”



on particular areas of the housing



take the views of tenants direct to

the council for further discussion.





across the North as well as hearing presentations from a number of guest

speakers from other housing organisations.

Did you know that

as a leaseholder you

have a number of

responsibilities you

must carry out to

protect your lease.


owns the land and the building that

your home is in and is the freeholder

of your building. We are required to

maintain the exterior of the building

and any common areas.

However, you must pay towards this

cost and will be charged for any

work carried out to the structure or

communal areas of your building.

Here is a list of some of your other

responsibilities:


It is a priority debt and failure to

do so could result in the loss of

your home.

• If you are struggling to pay the

service charge the council can

help by arranging a payment plan.


in your service charge


Safety Inspection - the council can

arrange for this work to be carried

out for a one off annual payment

of £45 + vat


your property as this could

invalidate your building insurance.

Marie Bradley is your dedicated


available on 01670 622906.

18

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


GET INVOLVED

ADD YOUR VIEWS

Over the next few months members of our Customer

Service Development Group will be contacting tenants

to get their views on the Customer Contact Centre.

They will be making phonecalls to

more than 800 tenants to gauge

customer satisfaction in relation to

calls made to the contact centre.

So if you receive one of these calls

make sure you give your feedback

as it can help shape the way the

service is delivered in the future.

Results of the survey will be collated


report outlining the full results later

in the year.

Tenants are advised that any members

involved in the survey will be signing

a Data Protection Declaration and

no personal details will

be included in any results.

Remember if you do wish to speak

to a member of the team, as well

as calling 01670 542424, you can

also drop into one of our Information

Centres around the county.

SEE BELOW FOR THE LIST OF CENTRES

You can visit us Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm

(excluding bank holidays)

Alnwick

Greenwell Lane, Alnwick

Ashington

Wansbeck Square, Ashington

Bedlington

Within Bedlington library,

Glebe Road, Bedlington

Berwick

Walkergate Building, Walkergate

Please note: Alnwick Information Centres

closes at 4:30pm, Bedlington has changed.

Blyth

Blyth Library, Bridge Street, Blyth

Cramlington

Concordia, Cramlington

Hexham

Hadrian House,

Market Street, Hexham

Morpeth

Royal Sovereign House,

Manchester Street, Morpeth

Seaton Delaval

Library, Astley High School,

Elsdon Avenue

AT ANY OF OUR CUSTOMER INFORMATION

CENTRES YOU CAN:

get advice and information regarding any

of our services anywhere in the county

arrange delivery of any council service

anywhere in the county

make a payment for council services

submit applications along with supporting

documentation or evidence

get assistance and advice in completing

application forms

If your request can not be dealt with

immediately, we will ensure the appropriate

person or department will contact you.

MAKING A PAYMENT:

For extra convenience, you can also make


YOUR NEWS Spring 2017

19


LEISURE

Boost for BLYTH

DURING TALL SHIPS

Nearly half a million people

flocked to Blyth last summer for

the North Sea Tall Ships Regatta.

500,000 VISITORS

8/10 VISITORS WOULD

RETURN TO THE AREA

ECONOMY BOOST

OF £13.5M

The four day

event saw people

spending money in both

Blyth and across the

wider county, boosting

Northumberland’s

economy by a

staggering

£13.5million

The four day event saw people

spending money in both Blyth and

across the wider county, boosting

Northumberland’s economy by a

staggering £13.5million.

Spending on eating out,

accommodation and other tourism

and leisure services far exceeded

initial targets and has demonstrated

the huge value to the county.

The economic impact has been


which also shows that there was

an extremely high satisfaction rate

from visitors to the event.

A remarkable 99% of those

attending the regatta described it

as ‘very good’ or ‘good’ - while more

than eight out of ten visitors from

other parts of the UK said they

would be more likely to return to

the area, and spend, as a result.


from holding the Tall Ships event in

Northumberland have far exceeded

our initial expectations. This world

class event produced a huge

economic impact for the county as

a whole, and particularly so in Blyth

and surrounding areas.


the importance of bringing high



and memories however - it also

gave opportunities for volunteers

and trainees to become involved in

learning and in gaining life skills of


Blyth will once again host the

Northumberland Live festival this

year, which attracts 10,000 number

of people to the area.

20

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


NOTICEBOARD

24 June 2017

BLYTH

[Blyth Beach NE24 3PL]

ON SITE PARKING

www.blythtowncouncil.org.uk

NorthumberlandLiveFestival

The Undertones

Plus many more*

29 July 2017

BEDLINGTON

[Gallagher Park NE22 7LA]

NO ON SITE PARKING

NorthumberlandliveBedlington16

The Commitments

Plus many more*

Northumberland Day

Sunday 28th May

Show your love for

the place you live by

celebrating the first ever

Northumberland Day.

Why not organise a street

party, or a special event or


or decorate your house in

the county’s traditional

colours of red and yellow.

***** FREE Family Festivals *****

LIVE L MUSIC S / STREET S T THEATRE A / FUN FAIRS

F A FOOD AT AFFORDABLE A FO

L PRICES R OR BRING R A PICNIC

HAVE-A-GO A ACTIVITIES FOR F R ALL L THE FAMILY (MOSTLY S FREE)

For more information about the event please email northumberlandlive@gmail.com or for more

information regarding public transport please visit http://jplanner.travelinenortheast.info/

* Both headline acts are supported by a wide range of bands which are suitable for a family audience

Watch this space

Northumberland’s Homefinder

will be re-launched at the end

of March.

The new look website will be

more user friendly using the most

up-to-date technology to help you

choose your future home.

EASTER DATES

Good Friday 14 April

Easter Monday 17 April

Early May

Bank Holiday 1 May

Spring Bank

Holiday 29 May

FOLLOW US ON Simply search Homes for Northumberland and click to like our page @HomesforN_land


PERFORMANCE

HOW ARE WE

performing?

We aim to be the best we can

possibly be and offer the best service

we possibly can to our tenants. This

is why we are constantly monitoring

our performance and measuring our

work against a set of performance

indicators.

Performance Indicators are targets used to


and provide important information on the key

services we provide.

Our performance indicators have been agreed

by tenants.

Our latest figures show how we were

performing between April and December 2016.

NUMBER OF EMERGENCY

CURRENT RENT ARREARS AVERAGE NUMBER

100% 99.93% completed 5 * NUMBER OF REPAIRS FIXED

6,816

FIRST TIME

OF DAYS TO RE-LET

A PROPERTY

REPAIRS COMPLETED

WITHIN 24HRS

Target

£517,011

Actual

£612,763

Target

30 Days

Actual

31.5 Days

Target

as a %

99.20%

Total

number

Actual

96.69%

Total

completed

NUMBER OF GAS SERVICING CERTIFICATES COMPLETED

of repairs within 24hrs

8,608 8,323

Target Mid-year Number of Number

as a % point outstanding


completed, giving a 100% completion rate

Target

as a %

98%

Actual

96.84%

NUMBER OF SOLID FUEL CERTIFICATES COMPLETED

Target

as a %

100%

Actual

100%

Number

requested

176

Number

completed

176

Total

number

of repairs

28,677

Total

completed


27,772

*Many of the repairs requiring a second visit

were due to a tradesman needing to order in

materials to complete the job

22

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017


HOUSING OFFICERS

YOUR HOUSING MANAGEMENT TEAM

Your Housing Management Team is here to help with questions on a range of housing

services including, rent, estate management or your tenancy. We have a dedicated

Housing Officer for each estate. Find out who your officer is and contact them on

01670 542424.

Philip Soderquest

Susan Ogle

Philippa Storey

Christine McGregor

Pearl O’Hare

Sarah Thorpe

Head of Housing

Head of Housing

Management

Area Housing

Manager

Blyth North and

Alnwick Area

YOUR HOUSING OFFICER

ALNWICK OFFICERS

Area Housing

Manager

Blyth South

Team Leader

Blyth North

and Alnwick Area

Team Leader

Blyth South

Simon Crosthwaite

Simon covers:

Alnmouth, Boulmer,

Craster, Embleton,

Elsdon, Felton,

Glanton, Harbottle,

Longframlington,

Longhoughton,

Netherton, Newton

by the Sea, Powburn,

Rothbury, Thropton,

Whittingham

Hannah Brewis

Hannah covers:

All Amble estates,

Hauxley

Andrew Howstan

Andrew covers:

Alnwick

BLYTH OFFICERS

Shaun McGonnell

Shaun covers:

The Poet’s Estate,

Seaton Sluice,

New Hartley,

Allendale, Haltwhistle

Lee Danskin

Lee covers:


Collingwood Grange,


Estate Flats

Graeme Harwood

Graeme covers:

Cowpen estate

Imran Ahmed

Imran covers:

The Avenues,

Solingen

Blyth Town Centre

Joanne Walker

Joanne covers:

East Hartford,


Grange, Cramlington


Cramlington

Allensgreen/Allerhope

Dawn Wright

Dawn covers:

Newsham and

New Delaval

Debbie Halford

Debbie covers:

North Farm, Bebside,

Cowpen Farm,

Hodgsons Road,

Cowpen Quay

Kevin Bradley

Kevin covers:

Seaton Delaval

and Seghill

Jeff Baker

Jeff covers:

Seaton Delaval

and Seghill

YOUR NEWS Spring 2017

23


FOLLOW

US ON

for latest news & advice

Why not follow us on Facebook and keep

up to date with the latest news and advice

about your home and the services we provide.

If you have a Facebook

account, simply search

Homes for Northumberland

and click to like our page.

KEEP IN TOUCH

CONTACT US

For queries about your council property,

repairs, rents and neighbourhood

services ring 01670 542424.

For questions about any other

Northumberland County Council



or refuse collection ring

0345 600 6400.

SAVE TIME AND

DO IT ONLINE

If you want to report a problem, apply

for services or pay bills it is cheaper,

faster and easier to do it online. Simply

visit www.northumberland.gov.uk

and complete your task from the

comfort of your own home.

CUSTOMER

INFORMATION CENTRES

You can call in at any Northumberland

County Council customer information

centre and speak to one of our

friendly advisors about any housing

or council related issue.

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